Local resident from Japan makes new friends at Shrewsbury Library
By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Keiko Moriwaki used to squish her way through mobs of people to climb aboard crowded trains that would take her anywhere she needed to go. The native of Osaka, Japan, had much to adapt to when her husband took a job in the U.S. two and a half years ago and she found herself living in Shrewsbury.
The closest place for her to buy Japanese food was an hour away and there was no public transportation to take her there. She had suddenly traded her fear of accidently bumping and angering someone on a packed train for not having a way to easily get to her destination of choice. Not having access to the food she knew was one of the toughest parts of moving to a new country, she said. Rivaling that was not being secure enough in her English-speaking ability to talk to people.
She joined the English conversation circle at the Shrewsbury Public Library and not only gained a vocabulary that would help her communicate, but friends as well.
“I feel better because I practice to have conversation with other people. There are many immigrants from other countries. Many people feel the same as me. We share common feelings,” Moriwaki said.
Moriwaki said it was difficult not knowing anyone here from Japan and being a minority. But then she met others from China, Vietnam, and Europe at the library. She was happy to make new friends through the English group, including one person from Japan.
Coming from a place with hot, humid summers and much milder winters than central Massachusetts, the weather has been another hurdle for Moriwaki. “The winter is so cold,” she said, in comparing Shrewsbury to Osaka.
Despite all the adjustments, Moriwaki has found much she likes about living locally. She thinks there is “beautiful nature” in the area, and that people here are happier. She has found people to be “so friendly and kind” and that they “think positive even when in a bad situation.”
Moriwaki and her husband are expecting their first child soon. Moriwaki said she has experienced a lot more freedom in the United States – one example is her choice regarding healthcare and childbirth options. In Japan, she noted, she would have been told what she needed to do regarding her delivery. She was pleasantly surprised to have been presented with all her options here and to be told she could choose what she felt was best for her.
Moriwaki said she thinks it will be a good opportunity to raise her child in a country where it is more free and relaxing. Her transportation worries are over now that she's learned to drive confidently and can take herself where she wants.
Missing family, friends, and the fresh seafood she grew up with, Moriwaki stays close to her roots via Skype communication. She remembers her first year here, when she wanted to go back home. Having gotten past the initial cultural jolts, she said she has become comfortable here “little by little.”
“Now I feel I could stay here for a while,” she said. “Now is a comfortable time.”
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